In a large pot, on medium heat, bring to a boil: 4 cups water, 2 tbsp tea leaves, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1 star anise, 1-2 cinnamon sticks, and 5-6 cardamom pods, slightly crushed to release the seeds.
Cover, and allow to simmer on medium low for 10-12 minutes till the liquid has reduced by half.
Turn off the heat. And have 1 cup of ice water ready.
Cold shock the tea by quickly adding the ice water. Using a heat proof glass or mug, carefully scoop out the tea in the pan, and pour it back in - do this scoop and dump 25- 30 times. This will encourage the pink colour to develop - trust me you need to do this a lot - don't skimp on this!
You should see the colour changing as you mix.
Strain the tea concentrate. This tea concentrate can now be refrigerated or frozen till you are ready to make kashmiri chai. Use about 1/2 cup of tea concentrate for each cup of tea.
Make the Kashmiri Chai
Return the tea concentrate to a large saucepan on medium heat.*
Add 4 cups of milk, and 4 tbsp sugar (if using) and bring to a boil - about 5 minutes.
Pour into tea cups, and sprinkle with some crushed pistachios and almonds just before serving. Enjoy!
This is enough to make a total of 10 cups of kashmiri tea - if you want to make less, just measure out 1/2 a cup of tea concentrate and 1/2 cup of milk for each cup of tea you want to make.